Cooking isn’t a game, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. Of course, if you’re too concerned about getting perfect results every time, you won’t always enjoy yourself. But if you keep working at it, and learn from your mistakes, I’ll be surprised if you don’t have a great time and find yourself feeling like a winner.
As instructed, I chopped and blanched the kale stems, along with a few cloves of garlic, before adding it all to my food processor with olive oil, lemon zest, parsley, red pepper flakes, sea salt, freshly cracked black pepper, and a big handful of organic walnuts — a gift from a dear friend with a walnut ranch in California. I tossed the pesto together with fresh, homemade spaghetti and some spicy chicken sausage made on a local farm, then I topped it all off with grated Romano cheese from Tonjes Farm Dairy. It was sublime.
I doubt that I’ll ever throw my kale stems into the compost pile again.
After a brutally hot summer, the cool weather of autumn seems to have arrived in New York a little earlier than usual this year. That means that favorite foods such as watermelon, corn, and peaches are already fading into memory. Luckily, heads of crisp cabbage are abundant, and — as any frequent guest at Chez Ks will tell you — one of my favorite dishes to make is cabbage and anchovy pasta. The cabbage is sautéed in olive oil with garlic and red chili flakes, and fresh bread crumbs are toasted with chopped anchovies and fresh sage. Then it’s all tossed together with homemade pasta and sprinkled with freshly grated pecorino romano cheese. If you love anchovies, I encourage you to try it. If you hate anchovies, I encourage you to try it anyway; this may make you change your mind.
When the New York summers get too hot to turn on the oven, I cook everything as quickly as possible on the stove. This seared chicken breast with diced eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers, garlic, and onions tossed with fresh orzo is a quick and tasty example. Refraining from eating it long enough to snap this quick photo took a yeoman’s effort!
I love beets, but I rarely cooked them more than once a year because they can take seemingly forever to roast. This year, however, my friend Heather asked me several times for instructions about cooking beets. Her requests for advice made me wonder why I didn’t just boil them once in a while; after all, if boiled beets were good enough for my grandparents, why shouldn’t they be good enough for me? To my great surprise and delight, I rediscovered that beets gently simmered in salted water until tender are absolutely delicious. A dozen boiled baby beets ― and the sautéed beet greens ― made their way into a dish of homemade pappardelle last night, along with a bit of feta and some toasted pine nuts. It was so wonderful that I’m sure I will make it often. I have Heather to thank for that, and I can only hope she never stops asking me for culinary advice.
Kay begged for a pasta machine for a couple years, but I steadfastly resisted for a long time. Why buy a machine to make when we could easily buy pasta already made? Then I decided to be clever and surprise her with a shiny, hand-cranked counter model one Christmas. She excitedly used it . . . once. I, however, continue to use it once or twice a week to make various shapes and sizes of fresh pasta that tastes infinitely better than store-bought. Kay, of course, happily devours all the results. Maybe she’s the clever one.
I love eating with chopsticks. If I could figure out how to do it, I’d probably eat soup with chopsticks. Maybe – in a previous life – I lived in a land where chopsticks are standard eating utensils. Or maybe I am reminded of the joy I experienced as a child when using chopsticks was still a novelty for me. If you don’t have chopsticks of your own, consider getting a pair and inviting your loved ones to watch the joy – or bemusement – on your face as you use them. And ask them to bring a camera.